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[com-prac] Wenger's Consortium

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  • Fred Nickols
    I, too, have read the prospectus for the consortium being put together by Wenger, McDermott and Snyder. I wish them well. However, I wish to point out a
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 20, 2000
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      I, too, have read the prospectus for the consortium being put together
      by Wenger, McDermott and Snyder. I wish them well. However, I wish to
      point out a bothersome inconsistency.

      In the opening section of the prospectus (presumably written by
      Wenger), it states, "It makes perfect sense to organize a community of
      practice on the topic of communities of practice." This is in the
      context of introducing a prospectus for a consortium with an $85,000
      price tag for membership.

      I consider myself reasonably familiar with the literature on
      communities of practice (CoPs) and I can point to at least a few of
      which I have been a member. In a couple of cases, I was on the
      periphery; and, in a couple of other cases, I was at the core. I guess
      that's a roundabout way of saying that, as a practitioner, I'm not
      intimidated by research or researchers.

      So, here goes. Right off the bat, let me state in no uncertain terms
      that a consortium does not a community of practice make -- especially a
      consortium with an $85,000 price tag for membership! So, although I
      wish Wenger et al well in their business venture, it is a business
      venture of theirs and not likely to become a community of practice.
      (On the other hand, if someone can point me to an example of a CoP with
      a big price tag on membership, I'll reconsider my point of view -- and,
      no, I do not consider most professional societies or associations CoPs
      -- and, judging from the message traffic on the Harvard Busines Review
      site, neither do Messrs. Wenger or Snyder).

      Speaking personally, I joined this list for two basic reasons: (1) I
      have a genuine interest in CoPs (and I like to think that I have some
      experience with them as well -- although as a member, not as an
      observer or researcher), and (2) like Messrs. Wenger, McDermott and
      Snyder, I believe CoPs offer a useful point of leverage for
      organizations in which executives and managers would like to tap the
      full potential of knowledge and the people who possess and apply it.

      So, I'll not join the WSMcD consortium ('cause I don't have $85K lying
      around and I wouldn't spend it on that if I did), but I will hang
      around this list for a while to see (1) how I might contribute and (2)
      what it has to offer.

      To paraphrase the Microsoft line, "Where do you want to go today with
      CoPs?"
      --
      Regards,

      Fred Nickols
      nickols@...
      http://home.att.net/~nickols/distance.htm
    • Matthew_Simpson@lotus.com
      Consider this. If it truly is to be a CoP, based on what we know of the current definition of CoP (more like a Zeitgeist, really), does it not naturally
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 21, 2000
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        Consider this.  If it truly is to be a CoP, based on what we know of the current definition of CoP (more like a Zeitgeist, really), does it not naturally follow that the cost of membership would not prohibit the membership relevant parties?  Remember, there are many corporate behomouths out there who can afford to participate with that price tag.  Would they want to participate in a CoP on community building if the community builders were recruited from a very limitted population?  I have not read all the details of his plan, nor have I talked to Etienne specifically about his business model.  But you know, I think the private and small-business practitioners among us might have something very very valuable to offer to this new group.  There must be a way to work that into the business model.

        Matthew Simpson
        Research Manager, Lotus Research
        55 Cambridge Parkway, Cambridge, MA 02142
        matthew_simpson@..., 617.693.1574; or (fax) 617.693.1407

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